Photography by Ros O’Gorman.
Without confirming or denying whether I might have been involved, I can report that there was a kind of geriatric mosh pit for the finale of TAPESTRY: THE SONGS OF CAROLE KING with Debra Byrne and Vika Bull. I can also report that the encores were played to standing audiences and that the roof was raised. It was a marvellous concert. Wonderful songs that have stood the test of time and voices to soothe the savage beast of some very hot and cross looking audience members on a 43 degree day.
Byrne and Bull hit the stage bare footed. You know it’s going to be good when artists want the freedom to move easily or plant their feet and belt. WAY OVER YONDER begins and the voices fill the room and wrap around us before the power of a yearning bass guitar sneaks in. Calm descends and “true peace of mind” is sweet and longing as the artists swap leads back and forth.
Their blend is just lovely, Bull with those magnificent top notes deliciously combining with Byrne’s rich, full lower notes. The crowd went nuts about this time, and it didn’t let up through I FEEL THE EARTH MOVE when the seating started to shake with the audience’s rhythmic nod-along.
Byrne and Bull spoke often to the audience, explaining their joy in celebrating with us the work of Carole King, about the history of the album and titbits concerning their relationship with the songs. Bull was five years old when TAPESTRY came out. But Byrne, like the older women and slightly fewer older men who made up most of the crowd, found that for every life experience, King had written a song. As the singer explained , they couldn’t do them all but they gave it a bloody good try.
The Brill band, named for the iconic building associated with Carole King and explored in the BRILL BUILDING LEGENDS recording series, are lovely in support but the night belongs to the two women. And their moves.
Byrne has lost none of her YOUNG TALENT TIME dance skills. She glides and stomps and taps around the stage yet the highlight of the night for me was the two of them on stools: still and soulful. Seated downstage centre for YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND the voices melded in the sheer joy of wonderful piano orchestration and the love of expressing emotion. Goosebumps! TAPESTRY was also superb as they stood together in that downstage area, arms around each other in a soft amber light.
Everyone seemed to have their favourites. The band would give the first few bars of any intro and a cheer would go up somewhere. Byrne and Bull rollicked or gently meandered through I THINK I CAN HEAR YOU; SMACKWATER JACK; BEAUTIFUL; GOING BACK and heaps more.
Second favourite? COME DOWN EASY with Bull’s unparalleled harmonics, and featuring only bongos and triangle behind Byrne’s soulful rendition. No wonder I was out of my seat for the encores. Oops!
TAPESTRY: THE SONGS OF CAROLE KING, with Debra Byrne and Vika Bull, was performed for one night only, Friday 10th February at the Enmore Theatre.